On Saturday, September 23, 2017, the Hamburg Diamonds doubled their lead over the Valkenswaard United after securing a win in the Global Champions League CSI5* Final of Rome.
Coming into the second phase on eight faults, teammates Harrie Smolders (NED) and Eric Lamaze (CAN) kept their championship dreams alive with faultless rides aboard Don VHP Z and Chacco Kid, respectively. “I felt I needed a good performance. We felt very good about our chances but we definitely had to come from behind and put some pressure on,” said Lamaze. “My horse is a bit quicker than Harrie’s. The strategy was to try to be clear and quick, and it worked out for us today.”
These results propelled the Diamonds from 6th place to 1st, and they will continue to maintain their overall GCL lead with 295 points. Valkenswaard United currently sit in 2nd with 278.
“So far it’s going to plan but every round counts, so in Doha it can still go wrong,” said Smolders. “But we’ve had a very strong season. Our start wasn’t too good but Eric put us back on track with his amazing performance.” The Dutch rider went on to finish 2nd in the sequential LGCT Grand Prix of Rome CSI5*. In doing so, he made history as the first rider to win the championship title ahead of the series finale.
On Friday, both Alberto Zorzi (ITA) and Marcus Ehning (GER) of the Valkenswaard United produced clear rounds to enter Saturday’s competition in a leading position. Despite a valiant attempt from the duo, they finished in 3rd place with a total of 12 faults.
“We were very motivated out there today. We tried to do our best to beat the Diamonds but it was not to be,” said Ehning. “It was a shame [not to win] but we are on the podium and it will come down to Doha. We have strong riders who want to go to Doha, so we’ll see which three will go depending on their horses.”
The Miami Glory finished in 2nd place with clear rounds from teammates Scott Brash (GBR), who rode Hello Forever, and Denis Lynch (IRL), who rode RMF Echo.
“Uliano [Vezzani] did a wonderful job in Rome,” said Brash. We both felt that course was really tough and we thought if we can just go clear we had a good chance of being on the podium. We will keep fighting to the end.”
U25 rider Evelina Tovek (SWE), who was first to go in the oder for the Mexico Amigos, put in an impressive round to jump clear on Castello 194. Tovek went on to win the feature class of the event, the Longines Global Champions Tour Grand Prix of Rome CSI3*.
All efforts will culminate in the nail-biting showdown during the series finale in Doha, Qatar.